“The Hunger Games” opened this Friday, March 23 and broke the record for most money made by a non-sequel, according to The Washington Post. I was at the IMAX in Noblesville when it premiered at 12:01 a.m. Thursday, having become a fan of the franchise after reading the trilogy. My review will stay spoiler-free for those who don’t want anything ruined.
The movie lasted just over two hours and 15 minutes, but it remained fast paced as it had a lot of ground to cover. Warning to those who get headaches from The Blair Witch Project: this movie is filmed in shaky-cam. At points it was difficult to tell what was happening on screen, which is somewhat intentional as the director, Gary Ross, had to make a PG-13 movie about teenagers murdering each other.
The sets are fantastic, giving life to a dystopian future where North America has become Panem, a country of 12 districts ruled by the Capitol. The Capitol itself was comprised mostly of CGI, but the interior sets were comprised of bright colors, a steep contrast from the grays of District 12. This is also mirrored in the costumes, from the modest, pale dress protagonist Katniss Everdeen wears to the bright and fanciful outfits of her escort to the Capitol, Effie Trinket.
Most of the characters in the film have condensed character arcs and development, which is understandable as Suzanne Collins’ book is 384 pages. The acting somewhat makes up for these cuts, however, as the emotions remain true to the story. Jennifer Lawrence is fantastic as Katniss, a 16-year-old who must compete in The Hunger Games. The Hunger Games is a televised event that happens every year, where two Tributes from each district, one male and one female, must fight to the death. The deaths themselves are somewhat brutal, but quick cuts and creative angles keep them mostly gore-free.
Since the event is televised, it allows the movie to cut to commentary and explain certain points to the audience. The book is told through Katniss’ point of view, making explanations necessary, as the movie has no inner monologue. The action still focuses mostly on Katniss with sections from behind-the-scenes at the Capitol interspersed. Altogether, the plot makes sense on its own, but reading the book will explain things in a lot more detail and provide deeper back-story.
Strictly as a movie, I would give The Hunger Games 3.5/5 stars, as it suffers from lack of character development and the extensive use of handheld cameras. As a book adaptation I would give it 4/5, because while it stayed pretty true to the story, it lacked some of the atmosphere of the book.
You can view the trailer in our previous post about “The Hunger Games“